Job Seeker Secrets: Recycle Your Job Search

By: Virginia Bola

If you have been out of work for quite a while, you have undoubtedly pursued a standard job search campaign: the unemployment office, newspaper classifieds, job fairs, online resources, agencies, networking, and cold calling.

Just because something didn't work the first time, don't totally give up. A good salesman knows that even the best product is seldom purchased on the first pitch. Studies have shown that an offer needs to be presented an average of 5 to 8 times before the sale is closed.

Go back through your notes, see what you've done and who you've contacted, then take a deep breath and start over with a fresh eye.

1. The unemployment office.

When was the last time you checked out all the listings? Chances are that you are receiving your check by mail and have been too busy going in other directions. Despite continued layoffs and geographic pockets of job blight, there are more openings emerging now than at any time within the past 3 years. Walk in with a "fresh new year" attitude and check out every possibility you see. Keep your eyes open for new job titles and descriptions that offer a chance to change your line of work or move into a different industry that is starting to expand.

2. Newspaper classifieds.

You may have been checking these every Sunday. In that case, you are probably feeling frustrated by the continuing ads for positions that you applied for long ago and never heard anything. Re-apply as people and circumstances may have changed. You may also have fallen into the rut of just checking certain sections which seem to contain the jobs for which you feel qualified. Take the time once in a while to go through ALL the listings. Sometimes employers and classified ad takers place positions under categories you may never have considered. Areas such as customer service, training, general, and management often contain a wide array of positions that might be suitable but which you may have missed by skipping over those sections.

3. Job fairs.

These tend to be more readily available in metropolitan areas so if you live in a rural location your choices may be limited. If there are any such fairs planned within your commute distance, try to attend as they are usually free to applicants. Even if the theme of the fair is not really directly related to your experience (medical, sales, finance, engineering, etc.) talking with employer representatives often reveals the availability of other positions within their company for which you might fruitfully apply. Be friendly, personable, and businesslike, and the Rep may allow you to use their name on an application - a move that may vault your paperwork to the top of the stack. A brief remark at an interview that "I had a long talk with Jim Jones of your company at last week's job fair and he suggested I contact you," goes a long way in creating that receptive atmosphere you seek.

4. Online resources.

You may have registered at or other similar job seekers' sites. Try a different approach by typing your industry or occupation directly into a search engine. You will then be able to access many, perhaps hundreds, of corporate web sites. The majority of such sites have a section on employment opportunities. Check them out and apply online or submit your resume and cover letter by e-mail. Even if the positions listed are only a marginal fit for you, the company may have other openings that have not yet been listed and you will be the first in line, always an enviable position.

5. Agencies.

Typically, when you register with an agency, they immediately try to find you a position as that is how they make an income. After a period of time without successful placement, you drop down their priority list as new applicants appear who look more promising. If you haven't heard from your agency rep for some time, call and remind them that you are still available and still actively seeking work. If you only registered with 2 or 3 agencies, seek out others where YOU will be the new applicant loaded with potential.

6. Networking.

You may have given up on your contacts who have failed to identify suitable openings. If it has been a period of time since you called them, make an effort to touch base now and remind them that you're still looking. They have probably forgotten all about you and their mild guilt may push them into looking more intensively.

If you've maintained regular contact with your network, keep doing it. However, you can't increase the frequency of calls to the point of being a pest and if any of the people on your list are not returning your telephone messages, it's a signal that you've pushed too hard and need to back off a little, especially if the person is someone with whom you want to enjoy a continuing relationship.

Be sure to call back to companies or people who indicated that "something might be coming up" when you last called. If you have any friends at the last place you worked, call them and see what is going on. They may be able to fill you in on coworkers who have left to go to work elsewhere and their new companies may well be worth checking out.

7. Cold calling.

While often a frustrating and ego-shredding exercise, walking cold into employer's offices can sometimes net a great result -- an unadvertised open position. At the very least, it gets you out of the house, forces you into business attire and a work mentality, and creates a sense of being able to take active steps to improve your situation. Any action is more productive than crawling into your little hole, bemoaning your fate, and mentally beating up on yourself.

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A Licensed Psychologist and Rehabilitation Counselor, Dr. Bola developed emotional coping strategies and job search skills for clients and has served as a recognized Vocational Expert in court. Visit her at:

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